With refined interiors, this 1900s Pass Christian cottage embraces the casual elegance of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

By Emily Raffield
May 28, 2020
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Luana and Ted Frois’ petite beach cottage in Mississippi survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 and then Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so they feel especially passionate about carrying their 1,200-square-foot home into the future while sustaining its historic roots. “Pass Christian’s old houses are treasures, and they’re a part of our culture here—setting the tone of timeless beauty and simple coastal sophistication,” says Louana. “I know preserving the homes and keeping them how they should be has helped to save the town itself.” The Froises’ cottage is one of the buildings in Pass Christian’s Scenic Drive historic district. The house’s all-wood original structure (primarily made of native Mississippi cypress and pine) and the sturdy early-1900s construction style are to be thanked for its ability to withstand the worst of Mother Nature.

Upon touring the house, the Froises were both immediately charmed by its classic Pass Christian-style architecture (the property-lining picket fence, brick walkways, wide porches, and high ceilings). “We love old homes and antiques, too, because they each have a story to tell, and when you take them into your life, you are continuing that story,” says Louana.

They bought the cottage with hopes of spending a portion of the year there, particularly holidays and a few weeks during the summer and fall. With the house already renovated by its previous owner and surrounded by an exquisite garden, the couple focused their efforts on the inside. “We wanted it to be warm and inviting with a touch of style,” says Louana. They knew that they needed to bring in a skilled designer to achieve their vision in a timely manner. “We called our daughter’s friend, Grace, right away,” says Louana. Interior designer Grace Kaynor is a New Orleans native, and she owns the design shop Sotre on Magazine Street. “She was very familiar with our tastes and was able to achieve the refined comfort we were looking for,” recalls Louana.

“The home’s interiors embrace what this place is all about—casual elegance,” says Kaynor. “I say it’s ‘old-school beach’ here. After spending all day out in the sun, people are still entertaining with their china and silver.”

Left: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins
Right: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

The designer likens this house to an artfully restored boat: rich wood texture with beautiful lines and a distinctive level of polish on the inside. “The Froises wanted to keep the natural wood walls, ceilings, and floors exposed to honor what was original to the home,” Kaynor says. “To me, that is authentic beauty that you just can’t re-create.”

The homeowners feel the same way about the precious time they spend in Pass Christian—it can’t be duplicated. “Our little cottage provides us a spirit of joie de vivre,” says Louana. “We walk the beach daily with our dachshunds. Ted and I also have a 1957 Lyman boat that we like to take into the waterways nearby, and we even cruise around The Pass in our 1955 Ford Thunderbird when we are here. It’s true—we have a love for old things.”

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Honor Your Home’s Story

“The house came to us nicknamed Kiskadee, and we kept it that way,” says Louana. The kiskadee is a bird native to Texas, a yellow-and-black flycatcher. The small birdhouses atop the fence posts and a carved sign in the guesthouse pay tribute to the name.

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Draw Inspiration from Place

In Pass Christian, traditional design is always in vogue, but due to the humid waterfront location, more practical takes on this look are best. “The cottage interiors are designed for today’s lifestyle, but every room has the spirit of what it was originally intended to be,” says designer Grace Kaynor. “The living room has a formal edge to it with a desk, side lamps, wall sconces, matching club chairs, and even antique candlesticks, but it’s still comfortable enough to relax and de-stress there.”

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Stay in Neutral Territory

“With the rich natural wood floors, walls, and ceilings, we brought in white pieces to make the space appear brighter and a touch bigger,” remarks Kaynor. “They reflect the light that streams in from the windows all around the room. If used in strategic places, white furniture can do magic.”

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Invest in Statement Pieces

The four-poster bed by Noir Furniture was the first new furniture purchase for the cottage. “We gave it an extra layer of paint to complement the historic patina of the house,” says Kaynor. “I preach that good design and custom pieces take time. If you’re willing to wait for quality, those will be the special things in your home that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Dare To Be Original

“We purchased a new rattan daybed with plans to re-cover its tufted mattress and add our own custom bolsters and accent pillows,” says Kaynor. “The more polished embroidered fabric we chose gave the piece the über-custom look we desired.”

Left: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins
Right: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Expand Square Footage with Outdoor Spaces

Porches and outdoor spaces, if carefully designed, can feel like additional rooms for small homes. “The garden meanders around the entire cottage, so it goes from one respite of cool and calmness to another,” says Louana. “I often have morning tea or an evening cocktail at our cafe table outside.” Design layers are created with arbors, benches, fountains, a goldfish pond, and a variety of lush southern plants and shade trees -- cypress, magnolias, palms, palmettos, hydrangeas and hibiscus, wisteria and, of course, crape myrtles.

Left: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins
Right: Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Show Your True Colors

The Froises chose to keep the cottage’s original exterior paint. “The rich peach reminded me of the inside of a Gulf shell that I could’ve found on the beach,” says Louana. “It inspired and communicated a serenity that we didn’t want to lose.” The light gray porches and cream trim are also original to the house and help keep the outside spaces cooler.

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins
Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Never Miss a Chance to Go Bold

“With a small space, filling it up with tiny pieces makes it feel smaller, so we went with one or two bold items in each room,” says Grace. “Those pieces make statements and carry the rooms on their own.” On the side porch, the mounted, dried sea pod displayed over the shell-inspired sideboard by Noir Furniture adds texture and dimension to the space. The pair of bold, artful conversation pieces make for the perfect porch bar.

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Have a Little Fun

“As much as you can see the Arts and Crafts design style in the main house, the guest cottage swings more classic to me. It’s all about primary colors like nautical blues and strong reds, built-in twin beds, globed reading lamps, and playful art,” says Kaynor. “The guesthouse is smaller than the main one, almost like a playhouse if you can imagine. We wanted to have fun with it by maximizing the space and keeping it lighthearted.”

Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Navigating the Pass

Scratch the surface of Pass Christian, Mississippi—incorporated in 1848 and located just 65 miles northeast of New Orleans—and you’ll find miles of white sand coastline, blocks of historic homes, and the second-oldest yacht club in the United States.

Dane Tashima

Iconic U.S. 90 takes you along the edge of the Gulf, nearly at sea level. As you skip along the waterfront, don’t forget to slow down and pick up some royal red shrimp and blue crab fresh off the pier from local fishermen. As the day fades, a sunset cruise is never to be missed. With multigenerational appeal, The Pass draws people in with its relaxed lifestyle and keeps them forever.